What does HIV mean to hip-hop?

    One woman is calling on the hip-hop community to raise awareness of HIV and keep it from spreading.

    Since HIV is hitting the African-American community the hardest it should mean a lot.
    While HIV is not something that just affects African American, and hip-hop is not something just black people enjoy or support, we can’t ignore the facts.
    Just like hip-hop runs through the blood of our inner cities, so does HIV.
    Like hip-hop, the fight against AIDS has been watered down. We are complacent with the medical advancements made just as hip-hop is complacent with its commercial success.
    Hip-hop’s lyrical content seems to be only about sex, popping bottles and clothes. It has forgotten how to make people think. Today’s hip-hop reflects a void of understanding within our community.
    When it comes to AIDS in the African-American community, we have chosen to turn a blind eye and not talk about it. It makes us comfortable to ignore the subject. The fact is our community is being hit the hardest. How can we remain silent any longer?
    What happened to the hip-hop campaigns in the early 1990s that told us to “Rap It Up?” Maybe some people are happy that we, as a community, have not learned how to work together in fighting HIV/AIDS or learned how to educate our brothers and sisters on safe sex. A line that replays in my head from Nas’ song “If I ruled the World” exclaims, "It’s elementary, they want us all gone eventually."
    AIDS has not gone away. It has become a silent killer in the African-American community because we have forgotten how to speak up and speak out. We don’t seem to care about our neighbors or ourselves. This is evident in the lack of responsibility people are taking with their own sexual health. 

    The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (21 percent) of those people living with HIV are unaware of their infection. This means that people could unknowingly be infecting others. 

    At what point will we start talking about HIV without our minds drifting to the long held misconception that it is a gay disease? The “H” in HIV stands for human–meaning any part of the human body that gives life, or preserves life can transmit HIV.
    While African Americans make up only 12 percent of the US population, we make up 50 percent of all new diagnosis of HIV. For my African-American women, the infection rate is nearly 15 times as high as that of White women and nearly four times that of Latinas.
    My Black men, despite what today’s hip-hop lyrics would have you believe, our sexual behavior does have consequences. You account for two-thirds of new infections (65 percent) among all Blacks.
    We have to talk to our sexual partners about HIV and STIs like our life depends on it because guess what, it does! We have to become responsible for the images we portray and the lifestyles that we glamorize. 

    I challenge you today to: 1) Get tested and know your status. Early detection can be the difference between life and death. 2) Educate yourself on HIV/AIDS. 3) Talk about it to your family, friends and co-workers. Talk about HIV on Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media site you may use. Just speak up!
    AIDS is killing our people because of our fear of being judged if we bring up the subject. Well, excuse me, but I cannot and will not sit back and watch the demise of my community because of peoples’ opinions. Can you?
    Who will be the new pioneers in hip-hop? Who will be the new voice of protest within our community?
    December 1st is World AIDS Day. This is an opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

    December 1st is also the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The act of one person standing up for what is right set in motion the act of followers following and speaking up! Who will be the Rosa Parks of today and start a movement to save our people?



    – Hydeia Broadbent



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